County Planning Commission arrests citizen for speaking in public hearing

The Payette County, Idaho Planning and Zoning Commission accused somebody of having previously provided false information and had her arrested for responding in a public hearing to a direct accusation by name. It appears that it was a Commissioner’s information that was misleading, and the same Commission has a history of not revealing relevant information even in response to an open records request. There is video of the Thursday event. She is still being held in jail, and permitted no outside communication.

Jerry Nelson wrote for Epoch Times 12 October 2014, Alma Hasse, Idaho Fractivist, Arrested in Public Meeting,

Alma Hasse, an activist with IRAGE, Idaho Residents Against Gas Extraction was arrested Thursday during an open meeting about potential expansion of Alta Mesa’s, a Texas-based gas company, lease for land to build a gas treatment unit.

According to witnesses, Hasse had attempted to ask a question during the deliberation stage of the hearing. The commission refused to allow Hasse to ask her question and she was told to leave the meeting. When Hasse refused to leave, the commission took steps to have her arrested.

Commissioner Pete Morgan claimed that Hasse had presented misleading information during a previous public hearing. During the testimony in question, Hasse stated that Santa Barbara, California, had an ordinance forbidding gas transport by railway. Morgan claims he contacted Santa Barbara’s zoning committee and says he was told, “…there was no such ordinance.”

Well, I don’t know about Santa Barbara City, but Marga K. Cooley wrote for the Santa Maria Times 7 December 2011, County-level ‘fracking’ rules get board OK,

Oil producers in the inland part of Santa Barbara County who want to conduct hydraulic fracturing on any well must get an oil drilling production plan from the Santa Barbara County Planning Commission, the county Board of Supervisors decided unanimously on Tuesday.

The board also approved language that specifically defines the oil-extraction process, commonly called fracking, in both the county’s Land Use Development Code and Coastal Zoning Ordinance.

Additionally, Doug Anthony, deputy director of the county Planning and Development Department, told the board that Fire Marshall Rick Todd has amended the procedure for the business plans that must be filed whenever hazardous chemicals are used.

I don’t know whether those ordinances include a rail transport ban, but they certainly appear to be ordinances regulating fracking.

In addition, due to Measure P to ban fracking on the November ballot, and much public demand in July 2014, just this past Tuesday (7 October 2014), the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors passed additional implementation ordinances in case Measure P passes.

The Epoch Times article doesn’t say which Idaho Commission, but a Pete Morgan voted for two fracking permits last year on the Payette County Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z). Cherise Kaechel wrote for the Independent-Enterprise/Argus Observer 17 October 2013, Payette County P&Z Approves Conditional Use Permits for Alta Mesa,

So far this year, two wells have been drilled in Payette County, and the state has approved a third. With the approval of these two conditional use permits, the company, Alta Mesa, will be able to sell the natural gas commercially, and Idaho would officially become a gas-producing state….

Commission members Mary Cordova, Frazer Peterson, and Richard Bronson voted against the permit. Commission members Pete Morgan, Farrell Rawlings, Doug Deardorff, Lyla Scheihing, and Jennifer Riebe voted to approve the permit, with members Bert Sideroff, Brent Vaughn, and Lori VanVliet absent. Chairman of the commission Chad Henggeler does not vote.

The second permit was also approved 5 to 3, with Cordova, Peterson, and Bronson voting against the permit. The second permit carried the conditions that the average decibel rating not exceed 55 decibels, some kind of fence or vegetation be planted to block the sight of the closest neighbors to the location, and additional suggestions submitted to the commission that were not returned by press time.

So those weren’t just any fracking permits: they were the first ones that permitted selling fracked methane out of state.

Here’s the relevant P&Z agenda item for last Thursday, listed under “PUBLIC HEARINGS” for the Regular Meeting of 7PM 9 October 2014:

2. CONDITIONAL USE PERMIT [AMENDED]- Natural Gas & Hydrocarbon Liquid Treatment Facility, by AM Idaho LLC, for property located near 4303 HWY 30 S., New Plymouth, Id, owned by Roger K. Murdock Ranch.

Property is described more specifically: A parcel of land located in the SE1/4NE1/4, NE1/4SE1/4 in Section 28,-T.7N,-R.4W, Boise Meridian, Payette County, Idaho. A portion of Tax Parcel 7115 (to be segregated)

As of yesterday (Sunday, three days after the arrest), Alma Hasse was still jailed, according to her husband Jim, who posted this video of the event.

After some time of being accused by the Commission, she asked for a name for who the Commissioner talked to. Then she was standing quietly in the back of the room when the Commission demanded she leave or be arrested. She refused to leave a public meeting, and was arrested, even though she explicitly said to the sheriff’s deputy:

I’m done speaking. I’m listening.

Her husband says she is now refusing food in jail.

And P&Z Commissioner Pete Morgan is reportedly still not saying who told him what about Santa Barbara, according to the Epoch Times article:

Hasse asked Morgan to name the person who provided the information. Morgan initially refused to release the data, only providing the requested information after Hasse had been arrested. Pete Morgan has not responded to emails seeking a comment on the Commissions’ actions.

This isn’t the first time P&Z has failed to provide relevant information. In that 2011 story:

Commission members voted 5 to 3 to approve the first permit with the condition that the decibel rating had an average of 60 decibels and would also include suggestions that were submitted to the commission prior to the meeting. The Independent-Enterprise filed a public records request for those documents, but the county had not supplied the documents by press time.

According to Payette County,

Payette County has the following citizen advisory boards appointed by the Payette County Board of Commissioners. Every committee is open to individuals living in Payette County. Letters of interest to be appointed to a committee are accepted at any time and will be kept on file for one year in case of resignation or other unanticipated occurrence.

1. Planning and Zoning Commission

The County’s website does not appear to name who is on any of the seven listed citizen advisory boards.

So apparently in Payette County, Idaho appointed officials with a history of not revealing relevant information even in response to open records request can make unsourced accusations about named individuals in a public meeting until they get a response, and then jail the named individual for responding.

Does that seem right to you?

Meanwhile, the Epoch Times article says this continues in Idaho:

The fracking industry in Idaho is allowed, by state statue, to submit applications that are essentially useless. The statutes permit a fracking application to be left blank with the phrase, “To be completed after construction,” stamped on an otherwise blank page, leaving Idaho citizens to wonder how the practice is acceptable.

Does that seem acceptable to you?

-jsq

1 thought on “County Planning Commission arrests citizen for speaking in public hearing

  1. Joe Morton

    Payette Co is the PERFECT example of what is wrong with Idaho – – –

    The good ole boy system to benefit the few – – ON TAXPAYER BACKS

    All 3 of Payette County Commissioners as well as many of the Zoning commission have also leased their mineral rights to these thugs…

    Alma also asked for the Zoning commission members to disclose that they may have a CONFLICT of INTERST. Burtt Osborne (private taxpayer funded attorney for the Payette Co. zoning commission) told Alma that the P&Z DID NOT need to disclose anything….

    http://www.ag.idaho.gov/publications/legalManuals/EthicsInGovernment.pdf

    59-702. Policy and purpose.
    It is hereby declared that the position of a public official at ALL levels of government is a public trust and it is in the public interest to:
    (1) Protect the integrity of government throughout the state of Idaho while at the same time facilitating recruitment and retention of
    personnel needed within government;
    (2) Assure independence, impartiality and honesty of public officials in governmental functions;
    (3) Inform citizens of the existence of personal interests which may present a conflict of interest between an official’s public trust and
    private concerns;
    (4) Prevent public office from being used for personal gain contrary to the public interest;

    (4) “Conflict of interest” means any official action or any decision or recommendation by a person acting in a capacity as a public
    official, the effect of which would be to the private pecuniary benefit of the person or a member of the person’s household, or a business with
    which the person or a member of the person’s household is associated, unless the pecuniary benefit arises out of the following:
    (a) An interest or membership in a particular business, industry, occupation or class required by law as a prerequisite to the
    holding by the person of the office or position;

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